Oscar Gaffe Brings Back Memories of SF Award Blunders

Bonnie & Clyde’s 50th anniversary moment at the Oscars was overshadowed when Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced La La Land instead of Moonlight, the correct winner.

Beatty told the audience that they had read the wrong envelope, saying that he saw that Emma Stone won for La La Land, who was actually the winner for best actress. Dunaway had read the winner before Beatty could stop her.

“I opened the envelope and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Beatty assured everyone, after admitting to the mistake and explaining that they had the wrong envelope

Fans immediately took to Facebook telling their friends it reminded them of the big mistake made during the Hugo ceremonies at Magicon in 1992.

As I wrote in my Worldcon report:

…The committee showed slides of the nominees’ names on the auditorium screen intended to be synchronized with Spider Robinson’s reading. But Spider appeared completely unrehearsed in this. After cycling through the Best Fanartist images twice while Robinson stood by obviously confused, Marty Gear as the “voice from above” had to explain the concept. It was an omen….

The ceremonies derailed when Spider ripped open an envelope and read that Lan’s Lantern won the Best Fanzine Hugo. While Robinson was placing the trophy in George Laskowski’s hands, on the screen behind him flashed a slide that the winner was Mimosa, edited by Dick and Nicki Lynch. Beside me, Janice Gelb cringed just like at Raiders of the Lost Ark when I warned her the face-melting scene was coming. Laskowski briefly said, “Thank you,” and got offstage because he’d seen Mimosa on the award plaque, too.

As [convention chair] Joe Siclari and others excused themselves from the audience and headed backstage to investigate, several more Hugos were given. Locus won Best Semiprozine. Michael Whelan accepted the Best Professional Artist Hugo, confessing “With so many artists in the field doing so much excellent work I feel like a thief taking this award. Nevertheless I accept it.” Gardner Dozois received another Best Professional Editor Hugo.

Now, a shaken Spider Robinson revealed that Mimosa was the correct Hugo-winning fanzine and was joined by Laskowski to turn over the trophy to Dick and Nicki Lynch. The mistake was reminiscent of the year Asimov accidentally announced Gene Wolfe’s “Island of Dr. Death” had won the Nebula, disbelieving that No Award (the correct result) had finished first and naming instead the second item listed. The only remotely comparable mistake at any other Hugo ceremonies happened in 1985 when the slide operator (of course) flashed that John Varley’s short story won before the emcee even announced the nominees. Laskowski has won two Hugos in the past — and showed extreme grace in surrendering Magicon’s Hugo to the Lynches.

Not that the comedy of errors was over. Completely in shock, Dick Lynch reached the stage alone and gazed at the shadowy auditorium doors hoping to see his wife, Nicki, who had made a quick trip out of the room after the fanzine Hugo had been given. “I wish my wife could be here. What do I do?” Dick seemed even more lost without his spouse than did Samantha Jeude [when she received the Big Heart Award], which permanently endeared him to women who commented about it later.

Another couple of Hugos were given. A representative of James Cameron’s company accepted the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo on behalf of Terminator 2. Michael Whelan claimed another Hugo in the Best Original Artwork category for the cover of Joan Vinge’s The Summer Queen.

When Spider Robinson paused to find his place our claque of fanzine fans sitting in the VIP seats noticed Nicki Lynch was back. “Bring back Nicki Lynch!” shouted Moshe Feder, and Janice Gelb. Some stood up to yell. My God, even Andy Porter stood up and shouted through cupped hands, “Bring up Nicki Lynch!” It was like a Bud Greenspan documentary, like the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Spider agreed, “That’s an excellent idea,” and both editors of Mimosa finally had their proper moment together at the Hugo Awards.

When the Best Nonfiction Book Hugo went to The World of Charles Addams Spider tried to recover his humorous stride. “The award will be accepted by ‘Hand’….”  Yelled the audience, “That’s ‘Thing’!”

…People surged out of the awards looking for Laskowski, the Lynches and Spider, to console, congratulate or cross-examine. Robinson spent the evening wearing the erroneous card, listing Lan’s Lantern, around his neck on a string to prove it wasn’t his fault. Reportedly, calligraphers had specially prepared cards with every nominee’s name and title. They were told to do all of them, since the actual winners were a secret — and somehow the wrong card got included in the award-winner envelopes delivered to Spider.

The 1992 drama reminded everyone of what happened to Gene Wolfe at the 1971 Nebulas because it was a well-known story, having been retold by Harlan Ellison in Again, Dangerous Visions. A few years ago I pulled together people’s accounts of that night

However, nothing can rival Isaac Asimov’s ghastly mistake at the 1971 Nebula Awards ceremony. Nor has any other gaffe worked out better for the injured party in the long run.

On Saturday, April 3, 1971 the leading science fiction professionals were seated around banquet tables in New York’s Les Champs Restaurant watching Asimov hand out the Nebulas.

Asimov had been pressed into service at the last minute. While that was not a problem for anyone who loved an audience as much as the Good Doctor, it meant that he had little time to study the handwritten list of results. In those days the emcee was not only given the names of the winners, but the names of the runners-up, which he also announced.

When Asimov came to the Short Story category his eyes slipped over “No Award” and he read the first real name on the list — which was Gene Wolfe, author of “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories.”

As Wolfe stood up a SFWA officer promptly whispered a correction to Asimov. Asimov went pale and announced he’d made an error. There was “No Award” in the Short Story category. Wolfe sat back down.

Eyewitness Harlan Ellison (writing in Again Dangerous Visions) says everyone felt awful –

Around him everyone felt the rollercoaster nausea of stomachs dropping out of backsides. Had it been me, I would have fainted or screamed or punched Norbert Slepyan of Scribner’s, who was sitting next to me. Gene Wolfe just smiled faintly and tried to make us all feel at ease by a shrug and a gentle nod of his head.

Fortunately, the mistake was eventually redeemed. As the author explained:

A month or so after the banquet I was talking to Joe Hensley, and he joked that I should write “The Death of Doctor Island,” saying that everyone felt so sorry for me that it was sure to win. I thought about that when I got home and decided to try, turning things inside out to achieve a different story.

He did, and his novella “The Death of Doctor Island” won a Nebula in 1974.

While, while we now know how Asimov made his mistake, we probably don’t have the full and complete explanation for the Oscar mixup because Beatty’s on-camera explanation is being disputed.

Backstage, Stone claimed she had the card that announced her as best actress win “the entire time.”

“I don’t mean to start stuff,” she said. “But whatever story that was … I had that card. I’m not sure what happened.”

Pixel Scroll 2/4/16 “Who Nominated J.R.?”

John Hodgman

John Hodgman

(1) HODGMAN TO PRESENT NEBULAS. SFWA has picked comedian John Hodgman to emcee the 50th Annual Nebula Awards in Chicago at the SFWA Nebula Conference on May 14.

John Hodgman is the longtime Resident Expert on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the host of the popular Judge John Hodgman Podcast. He has also appeared on Conan, The Late Late Show, @midnight, and This American Life. The Village Voice named his show Ragnarok one of the top ten stand up specials of 2013. In 2015, he toured his new show Vacationland. He has performed comedy for the President of the United States and George R.R. Martin, and discussed love and alien abduction at the TED conference.

In addition to the Nebula Awards, SFWA will present the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

(2) BYE BYE BABBAGE. Chris Garcia is mourning the withdrawal of the Babbage machine from exhibit from the Computer History Museum.

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

After eight years at the Computer History Museum (CHM), the Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 is bidding farewell and returning to its owner.

The Difference Engine No. 2 has had a wonderful home at the Museum. Our Babbage demonstrations have amazed more than 500,000 visitors, providing them with the unprecedented opportunity to see and hear the mechanical engine working—a stunning display of Victorian mechanics.

People will have to content themselves with CHM’s online Babbage exhibit.

Dave Doering said:

I figure they knew the price would one day come due for the chance to host it there for eight years. I mean, everyone today knows about “excess Babbage fees.”

(3) ASTEROID BELT AND SUSPENDERS. The government of Luxembourg announced it will be investing in the as-yet-unrealized industry of asteroid mining in “Luxembourg Hopes To Rocket To Front of Asteroid-Mining Space Race”. An NPR article says there are both technical and legal hurdles to overcome.

First, of course, there are technical challenges involved in finding promising targets, sending unmanned spacecraft to mine them and returning those resources safely to Earth.

Humans have yet to successfully collect even a proof-of-concept asteroid sample. …

The second issue is a legal one. Asteroids are governed by the Outer Space Treaty, nearly 50 years old now, which says space and space objects don’t belong to any individual nation. What that means for mining activities has never been tested in international courts because, well, nobody’s managed to mine an asteroid yet.

But there’s a fair amount of uncertainty, as Joanne Gabrynowicz, a director at the International Institute of Space Law, told NPR’s Here & Now last February.

“Anybody who wants to go to an asteroid now and extract a resource is facing a large legal open question,” she said.

The U.S. passed a law near the end of last year, the Space Act of 2015, which says American companies are permitted to harvest resources from outer space. The law asserts that extracting minerals from an extraterrestrial object isn’t a declaration of sovereignty. But it’s not clear what happens if another country passes a contradictory law, or if treaties are arranged that cover extraction of minerals from space.

Luxembourg hopes to address this issue, too, with a formal legal framework of its own — possibly constructed with international input — to ensure that those who harvest minerals can be confident that they’ll own what they bring home.

(4) WRITERS WHO THINK UP STUFF. Steven H Silver points out, “Of the authors listed in 8 Things Invented By Famous Writers at Mental Floss, Heinlein, Wolfe, Clarke, Atwood, Carroll, Dahl, and arguably Twain are SF authors.”

  1. THE PRINGLES CHIP MACHINE // GENE WOLFE

Prior to beginning his contributions to the science fiction genre with The Fifth Head of Cerberus in 1972, Wolfe was a mechanical engineering major who accepted a job with Procter & Gamble. During his employment, Wolfe devised a way for the unique, shingle-shaped Pringles chips to be fried and then dumped into their cylindrical packaging. (Despite his resemblance to Mr. Pringle, there is no evidence the chip mascot was based on him.)

(5) POLAR BOREALIS PREMIERES. The first issue of R. Graeme Cameron’s semipro fiction magazine Polar Borealis has been posted. Get a free copy here. Cameron explains how the magazine works:

Polar Borealis is aimed at beginning Canadian writers eager to make their first sale, with some pros to provide role models.

In Issue #1:

  • Art by Jean-Pierre Normand, Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, and Taral Wayne.
  • Poems by Rissa Johnson, Eileen Kernaghan, and Rhea Rose.
  • Stories by Christel Bodenbender, R. Graeme Cameron, Steve Fahnestalk, Karl Johanson, Rissa Johnson, Kelly Ng, Craig Russell, Robert J. Sawyer, T.G. Shepherd, Casey June Wolf, and Flora Jo Zenthoefer.

(6) A RATHER LARGE SCIENCE FAIR. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, to be held March 16-19 in Birmingham, “is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.”

Held at the NEC, Birmingham 16-19 March 2016, The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits, as well careers information from STEM professionals.

We aim to show young people (primarily aged 7-19) the exciting and rewarding opportunities out there for them with the right experience and qualifications, by bringing classroom learning to life.

Having grown from 6,500 visitors in its first year (2009) to nearly 70,000 in 2015, The Big Bang Fair is made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of over 200 organisations

(7) JUST NEEDS A LITTLE SMACK. Michael Swanwick, in the gracious way people do on the internet, expressed his bad opinion of the movie I, Robot (2004) in these terms:

Just watched I, ROBOT. I want to punch everybody involved in the face. Very, very hard. Dr. Asimov would approve.

[Okay, to spare people’s feelings, I want to punch THOSE RESPONSIBLE in the face. Still hated the movie.]

This ticked off Jeff Vintar, who wrote the original spec script and shared credit for the screenplay. Vintar posted a 1,200 word comment telling how his original script got turned into an “adaptation” and how these links of Hollywood sausage got made.

Having been one of the film’s biggest critics, I have watched over the years — to my surprise — as many people find quite a bit of Asimov still in it. I’m always glad when I read a critical analysis on-line or a university paper that makes the case that it is more Asimov than its reputation would suggest, or when I get contacted by a real roboticist who tells me they were inspired by the movie and went on to a career in robotics. And then of course there are the kids, who love it to death…

But I never go around defending the film or talking about it, because although I still believe my original script would have made a phenomenal ‘I, Robot’ film, there is no point. That any film gets made at all seems at times like a miracle.

But your stupid, yes stupid, ‘punch in the face’ post compelled me to write. I love Asimov as much as you do, probably more, because of all the time I spent living and breathing it. I also wrote an adaptation of Foundation that I spent years and years fighting for.

So, you want to punch me in the face? My friend, I would have already knocked you senseless before you cocked back your arm. I have been in this fight for more than twenty years. You’re a babe in the woods when it comes to knowing anything about Hollywood compared to me, and what it’s like fighting for a project you love for ten years, some for twenty years and counting.

Yet this exchange did not end the way most of these Facebook contretemps do.

Michael Swanwick answered:

I feel bad for you. That must have been an awful experience. But I spoke as a typical viewer, not as a writer. The movie was like the parson’s egg — parts of it were excellent, but the whole thing was plopped down on the plate. For my own part, I’d love to have the Hollywood money, but have no desire at all to write screenplays. I’ve heard stories like yours before.

Then Vintar wrote another long reply, which said in part:

Other writers are not our enemies. We are not fighting each other, not competing with each other, although that is a powerful illusion. As always the only enemy is weakness within ourselves, and I suppose entropy, the laws of chance, and groupthink. Ha, there are others! But I stopped throwing punches a long time ago. (Believe me, I used to.) You guys are great, thanks Michael….

And the love fest began.

(8) OGDEN OBIT. Jon P. Ogden (1944-2016), devoted Heinlein fan and member of the Heinlein Society, died January 27, Craig Davis and David Lubkin reported on Facebook. [Via SF Site News.]

(9) ALASKEY OBIT. Voice actor Joe Alaskey, who took over performing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck after actor Mel Blanc died in 1989, himself passed away February 3. CNN reports the 63-year-old actor had been battling cancer.

Mark Evanier’s tribute to Alaskey on News From Me also tells about one of his vocal triumphs outside the realm of animation —

When [Jackie] Gleason’s voice needed to be replicated to fix the audio on the “lost” Honeymooners episodes, Joe was the man.

A few years after that, Joe was called upon to redub an old Honeymooners clip for a TV commercial. When he got the call, Joe assured the ad agency that if they needed him, he could also match the voice of Art Carney as Ed Norton. He was told they already had someone to do that — someone who did it better. Joe was miffed until he arrived at the recording session and discovered that the actor they felt could do a better job as Art Carney…was Art Carney. Joe later said that playing Kramden to Carney’s Norton was the greatest thrill of his life, especially after Carney asked him for some pointers on how to sound more like Ed.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

cranky-snickers_0

  • February 4, 1930 – The Snickers bar hits the market.
  • February 4, 1938 — Disney releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Did Disney miss a product placement opportunity by naming a dwarf Grumpy instead of Cranky?)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CLUB

  • February 4, 1976 – Sfera, the oldest SF society in former Yugoslavia, was founded.

[Via Google Translate] On this day in 1976, a group of young (and less young) enthusiasts launched as part of the astronautical and rocket club Zagreb “Section for science fiction”…

(12) TODAY’S BITHDAY BOY

(13) WEIRD AL CAST. “Weird Al” Yankovic will voice the title character in Milo Murphy’s Law, Disney XD’s animated comedy series, reports Variety.

The satirical songwriter will provide the voice of the titular character Milo Murphy, the optimistic distant grandson of the famed Murphy’s Law namesake. In addition to voicing the main character, Yankovic will sing the show’s opening theme song and perform other songs throughout the duration of the series….

“Milo Murphy’s Law” will follow the adventures of Milo and his best friends Melissa and Zack as they attempt to embrace life’s catastrophes with positive attitudes and enthusiasm.

(14) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day posted four picks for the Best Fancast category today.

(15) SAD PUPPIES. Damien G. Walter japed:

(16) PUPPY COMPARISON. Doris V. Sutherland posted “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Novellas”, the third installment, the purpose of which she explains in the introduction —

In this series on the Sad Puppies controversy, I have been comparing the works picked for the 2015 Sad and Rabid Puppies slates with the stories that were nominated for the Hugo in 2014. Were the previous nominees truly overwhelmed with preachy “message fiction”? What kinds of stories had the Sad Puppies chosen to promote in response?

Having taken a look at the Best Short Story and Best Novelette categories, I shall now cover the Hugo Awards’ final short fiction category: Best Novella, the section for stories of between 17,500 and 40,000 words in length. Let us see how the two sets of stories compare…

At the end of her interesting commentary, she concludes:

…Let us take a look through some of the previously-discussed categories. Aside from Vox Day’s story, only one of the 2014 Best Novelette nominees can be read as “message fiction”: Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars,” which has an anti-colonial theme. I have also heard the accusation of propaganda directed at John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, a story about a gay couple. But once again, I see nothing clumsy or poorly-handled about de Bodard’s exploration of colonialism or Chu’s portrayal of a same-sex couple. So far, the accusation of preachiness appears to be based largely Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, which has the straightforward message that hate begets hate.

None of these stories push a specific message as strongly or as directly as John C. Wright’s One Bright Star to Guide Them. This raises an obvious question: exactly which group is rewarding message fiction here…?

[Thanks to Gary Farber, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Brian Z., Steven H Silver, Jumana Aumir, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 11/11 Let it scroll on, full flood, inexorable

(1) On Veterans Day: “Ten Science-Fiction and Fantasy Authors Who Served in the US Armed Forces” from Suvudu.

9) Elizabeth Ann Scarborough Elizabeth Ann Scarborough was an Army nurse during the Vietnam war, an experience she has drawn upon in her fiction on occasion. She is the author of several series, including Acorna and Petaybee, but her modern fantasy novel The Healer’s War is perhaps the most autobiographical. Interviews with Scarborough aren’t easy to find online, but here’s one in which she mentions her nursing experience.

10) Gene Wolfe After serving in the Army during the Korean war, Gene Wolfe returned home and became an engineer. Writing was a hobby that he pursued in his off-hours, but his talent was apparent from the very beginning. He is the author of numerous books, but his The Books of the New Sun series revolutionized fantasy and is a classic of the Dying Earth genre. If you have a literary bucket list then this series belongs at the top. Wolfe spoke about the effect the war had on his fiction during an interview with MIT’s 12 Tomorrows: “It’s a real wake-up call. What military service does is rub off a lot of the pretense and self-deception from a person. You have to keep going, knowing that there are people over there who are trying to kill you. You’re right: they are.”

(2) N. K. Jemisin reacts to dropping the Lovecraft statuette from the World Fantasy Award in “Whew”.

That’s a sigh of relief. One less thing to feel conflicted about. One more thing I can celebrate freely, easily, and without reservation.

I’m talking about the World Fantasy Award, which will now no longer be represented by the head of H. P. Lovecraft. My feeling re the whole thing is a) ’bout time, and b) whew. Because while I have no idea if I’ll ever win a WFA myself — I’ve been nominated twice and that’s awesome — I have watched other anti-racist friends and fellow writers of color win the award. It’s impossible not to feel that visceral clench of empathy when they speak of the awkwardness of Lovecraft, of all people, as the representation of their honor. I’ve heard a number of winners talk about the ways they plan to hide or disguise or otherwise disrespect their own award so that they can reach a place of comfort with it. I’ve contemplated what I would do if I won, myself. (Was planning to put it on full display atop my cat’s litterbox.) I never show off my nomination pins, because I don’t feel like explaining when people ask, “Who’s that supposed to be?”

(3) Rocket Books is running a series of sf author trading cards. Here are the four most recent sf all-stars.

(4) Entertainment Weekly had Harrison Ford recreate his classic pose as one of four new covers for their upcoming Star Wars special issue.

Ford cover poses

(5) Worldcon organizer Ben Yalow is quoted in the New York Times story “F.C.C. Sides With Hot Spots, and Hospitality Industry Feels a Chill”:

…Since many convention centers outsource functions like their network management, it can be harder for planners to haggle down the price of Internet access, but the arrangement spares the center from having to finance technological upgrades and might provide it with a commission as well….

 “Basically, you’re looking at six figures or more to wire up the place, and every couple of years you’ll probably want to do another low six-figure upgrade,” said Ben Yalow, a recently retired information technology professional with experience setting up and configuring networks in hotels and convention centers….

Hospitality industry experts predicted that the F.C.C.’s recent actions would force event facilities to become more competitive in their pricing, so as not to lose out entirely on the Internet revenue stream….

 “I think the long-term solution is going to be that convention centers and hotels drop their prices down to someplace reasonable,” Mr. Yalow said. “They’re not going to make money off this the way they used to.”

(6) “A member of Britain’s Parliament feuds with store over ‘Star Wars’ shoes”.

A member of Britain’s Parliament has been nicknamed “Shoebacca” after using House of Commons letterhead to complain about missing out on Star Wars shoes.

Angela Rayner, 35, a Labor party member who represents Ashton-under-Lyne, used notepaper with House of Commons letterhead to write a letter of complaint to the Irregular Choice shop after the store sold out of Dan Sullivan-designed Star Wars shoes that featured R2-D2 figures as the high heels.

 

(7) David Gerrold responded to the latest news about accessibility and harassment policies on Facebook. This excerpt is what he said about accessibility.

For the past two or three years, when I have been invited to conventions, I have requested that panels be made up of qualified individuals of all genders. While sometimes it happens that a panel ends up as all-male or all-female (as a function of subject matter), con programmers should make every effort to be inclusive.

In the future, I will be expanding that request to include ramps and other appropriate accessibility requirements for disabled participants. Larger conventions should consider having a sign-language interpreter for deaf attendees.

I have to make it a request, not a requirement — because some conventions might not have the resources. A convention survives on its attendance. Small cons can’t always afford these things. The rule of thumb is to spend the money where it will serve the most people….

A convention is supposed to be a gathering of the community, a place where we share our love of the genre and go home inspired. We don’t want our friends in fandom going home unhappy. The unwritten rule in fandom has always been that everybody is welcome, everybody is included — but it’s not enough to have that as an ideal, we have to demonstrate it by accessibility and inclusion.

(8) On Veterans Day, Cedar Sanderson recommended reading Tom Kratman’s columns for EveryJoe.com based on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

Here are the links to Kratman’s “Service Guarantees Citizenship (Part I)” and “Service Guarantees Citizenship (Part II)”.

We’ve been discussing the system put forth in naval officer and science fiction author Robert Heinlein’s book, Starship Troopers. For some background see last week’s column. For more background, read the book and spurn the wretched movie.

*****

So why are we – those of us who are in favor – even concerned with radically changing the system that has, and for the most part well enough, seen us through over two centuries? It’s simple: We think that system’s time has run, that we are not the people we were and that our ruling class is no longer worthy. Indeed, it’s not even trustworthy, let alone generally worthy. We observe that our political and economic fate has fallen into the hands of the denationalized rich, who frankly don’t care a fig for us. We see that where once we were an “ask what you can do for your country” people, we are increasingly indistinguishable from the worst third-world kleptocratic and nepotistic hellholes. We see the PC fascisti replacing us with unassimilable foreigners, often enough from cultures that are not just incompatible, but which actively hate us. We see that we are fracturing in ways that are arguably worse than anything we’ve ever seen before, worse even than before and during the Civil War. Yankees and Rebs used to, at least, mostly speak the same language. Our language today, as spoken by left and right from north and south, may sound the same but the words and concepts have changed meanings.

In short, we think that we either, in Brecht’s words, elect a new people, as our denationalized and corrupt rulers seem to be trying to do via immigration, or we fall hard – so hard we’ll never stand again.

(9) Adam-Troy Castro quizzed his Facebook readers:

Unanswered question, from a thread: what if the World Military Fiction Award were a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest? Would you consider a black novelist childish for questioning the appropriateness of that choice, or the award committee too PC for considering that maybe he had a point?

(10) Today In History

(11) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 11, 1922 — Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

(12) David Kilman at Amazing Stories devotes the November installment of Scide Splitters to “1941 Retro Hugo Eligible Novellas”.

Two of the three novellas I will be exploring today are ones that I read at an early age, albeit in modified form as they were incorporated into The Incomplete Enchanter. My reviews here, however, are of the stories as they appeared in their original form published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction. Even though all three were advertised as novels when first published, I have confirmed that all three are of novella length (17,500 to 40,000 words).

(13) Litigation Comics  from The Line it is Drawn #265 – “One Moment Later” on Famous Comic Book Covers at Comic Book Resources.

Litigation Comics

(14) Nerds of a Feather hosted a roundtable discussion on Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni Rising between Joe Sherry, Rob Bedford, Paul Weimer, Jonah Sutton-Morse and Fred Kiesche. Here’s a sample:

Joe Sherry: Two things stand out for me. One: How quickly Kurtz gets into the action of the story and how tight the timeline is here. Everything that happens is so immediate,  but it feels appropriate with the political risk of Kelson being able to hold on to a crown he is barely prepared to accept because he is only about to hit his legal majority all the while he is about to face a challenge from an external threat with an internal agent. I’m not sure that stuff really gets old when it’s written so smoothly. Two: This may be colored by how I feel about some of the later novels, but what I like is the minutiae, the details of how things work behind the scenes – the Council sessions, the rituals of the church, the tidbits on Deryni history.

(15) Larry Correia, in “The 2015 Still Not a Real Writer Book Tour Recap” at Monster Hunter Nation, shows how to make the jump from Sad Puppy to Bestselling Underdog.

One stop was at Powell’s in Beaverton. It is a great store, and I had a great time with a good crowd. But I saw later on Twitter somebody had apparently seen me there, and taken to Twitter to talk about my pathetic showing, and how nobody was there at the lamest book signing ever, and hashtag something about how I was the saddest puppy of all.

That struck me as odd, since we had over forty people show up, which by most author’s reckonings is great, and we filled the signing area to the side. But then I realized what he’d probably seen (mistakenly thinking that a Puppy Kicker was honest and not just lying about me on Twitter, silly me). I’d gotten there almost an hour early, and had killed time just hanging out in the audience with the seven or eight people who’d shown up really early too. I figured that was what he’d seen, because by seven o’clock we had filled the chairs, and more people kept coming in the whole time.  So being my usual diplomatic self, I responded and told him that the “big hand goes on the seven, doofus”. Luckily, some of the fans had taken pictures of the crowd too, and since you guys are so super helpful, you posted the photographic evidence to the dude.

Now, a smart person would say, whoops, my bad. But not a Puppy Kicker. They have that whole narrative about how anybody who disagrees with TRUFAN is irreparably damaging their career, so of course he doubled down. Oh no. He was there at 7:05! And he saw my 40! And that was still horrible garbage failure of suck, because that bookstore ROUTINELY gets 500(!) people at a book signing…

This of course came as a surprise to the people who work there, and my more famous author friends who sell ten times as many books as I do, who only got around 200 there. Basically, you can count the number of mega superstar authors who routinely get five hundred people at a book signing on your hands, and have fingers left over. Puppy kickers are harsh, man. I think the average book signing in America is like five to seven people.

But I don’t make the rules. Five hundred it is! Anything less is shameful garbage.

(16) Max Florschutz tells his own strategy for “Dealing with Detractors” at Unusual Things.

You ignore them.

For the most part. But seriously, this is usually the best solution. Because if you try to do battle with them, be they trolls or individuals/groups in power, you’re basically throwing gas on a flame. It’ll ignite, and sometimes that can catch you on fire as well. If nothing else, a detractor will try their hardest to make sure that if they’re going down, they’re going to take you with them, any way you can.

Now, some detractors can take things to the point where you need to confront them in some way or another. But you know what?

Let them ruin themselves.

You see, the thing about these detractors is that they’re toxic individuals to one degree or another. And one way or another, unless they change, they’ll end up poisoning whatever atmosphere they’re involved in. Eventually, people catch on. It might take years, but eventually, one way or another, time has a way of catching up with those who’ve made their hobby tearing down everyone else and eating away at their own pyramid. And as long as you haven’t let them catch you in their claws, they probably won’t take you with them when they fall. Ignore them, work with those critics and individuals who are concerned with making your work the best it can be, and detractors will remove themselves from the creative pool; exercising a form of social Darwinism.

(17) Mike McMahan has written an ST:TNG parody, Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season.

The official parody guide to the unaired eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, based on the popular @TNG_S8 Twitter account from creator Mike McMahan!In the basement of the Star Trek archives, behind shelves of U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D models, bags of wigs, and bins of plastic phasers, sits a dusty cardboard box. Inside is a pile of VHS tapes that contain never-before-seen episodes and behind-the-scenes footage for something truly amazing. The world thinks there are only seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but there’s one more. A secret season.

 

(18) Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Official Trailer #2, coming on Netflix. Suvudu gives a detailed rundown.

[Thanks to Ryan H., JJ, Daniel Dern, The G., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 11/7 The Manliness of MEH

(1) “The Empire Strikes Thomas Kinkade” points to Jeff Bennett’s satirical improvements on “The Artist of Light.”

(2) American wizards have a completely different word for “Muggle” reveals Entertainment Weekly.

Next year’s Harry Potter prequel film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set in 1926 New York, where the wizarding community uses another term entirely for people without magical powers.

In shifting the franchise away from the U.K., author J.K. Rowling — who also wrote the movie’s screenplay — is poised to introduce several new words into the Potterverse lexicon, and the most significant might be what Stateside wizards say instead of Muggle: “No-Maj” (pronounced “no madge,” as in “no magic”).

(3) And here’s a gallery of images from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

In Entertainment Weekly’s new issue, we go on the set and deep inside the chamber of secrets of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Here’s your first look at Katherine Waterston as Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein, Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Alison Sudol and Queenie Goldstein, and Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski.

(4) More alleged secrets are spilled by the host of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert:

J.K. Rowling can’t stop revealing “Harry Potter” secrets, even though the last book came out over 8 years ago. It’s time for Stephen to take spoilers into his own hands.

 

(5) Adam Whitehead, in “A History of Epic Fantasy – Part 25“, courts controversy by asking about the Harry Potter series:

But is it really an epic fantasy?

That question has been asked many times before and has proven slightly controversial. The more obvious answer may be no: the books are set in the “real” world, with some of the action taking place in real locations such as London. Much of the story is set in and around a single location, Hogwarts, whilst epic fantasy is often based around a long journey or series of journeys across a fantastical landscape. Epic fantasy also usually features a large and diverse number of nonhuman races, whilst Harry Potter only has a small number of them, and all of the primary protagonists are human. Epic fantasy also relies on characters with diverse skillsets, whilst in Potter pretty much everyone of note is a wizard.

But there are strong arguments to the counter. The books may touch on the real world but most of the action takes place in original, fantastical locations such as Hogwarts. Also, the books make much of the idea of the world being similar to ours, but one where magic is real (if mostly secret) and the impact that has on government and society, making it arguably an alt-history.

(6) At World Fantasy Con 2015:

(7) Also allegedly sighted at WFC by Adam Christopher. No context!

(8) Ethan Mills continues his celebration of Stoic Week at Examined Worlds.

Friday: Relationships with Other People and Society Stoics, Vulcans, Buddhists, and artificial intelligences alike are often accused of being emotionless and not caring about other people.  In all four cases, this is a mistake (although in the case of AIs, it may depend on which AI you’re talking about).  See my philosophical tribute to Leonard Nimoy for more on this point. As any sufficiently nerdy Star Trek fan knows, Vulcans actually have emotions, but, in many of the same ways as Stoics, they train themselves to move beyond being controlled by negative emotions and they cultivate positive emotions like compassion.  Vulcans like Spock do care about their friends.  The deep friendship that Spock feels for his crew mates, especially Kirk and McCoy, is unmistakable, as illustrated most poignantly near the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (whether Spock is a utilitarian or virtue ethicist is hard to say.)

Marcus Aurelius realized that cultivating compassion for everyone is often hard, especially when other people are obnoxious (as they so often are, even more so now that we have internet trolls).

(9) In “Guillermo del Toro’s Guide to Gothic Romance” at Rookie the director lists the Gothic romances that influenced him.

Do you ever wonder what goes on in the wondrous mind of director, producer, and screenwriter Guillermo del Toro? Yes? Same. Well, to chime with the recent release of his creepy, goth thriller Crimson Peak, Guillermo has curated a syllabus of the Gothic and Gothic romance novels, short stories, and engravings that influenced the making of the film. He sent us these recommendations with the following words: “I hope you enjoy some of these as fall or winter reads by the fireplace.” Before you post up beside an actual fire, here’s what Guillermo del Toro has to say about these Gothic essentials.

First on the list –

Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu This book defines the link between fairy tales and gothic romance. Uncle Silas is a convoluted, highly perverse mystery-thriller about innocence in danger, written by the master of ghost stories, J. Sheridan Le Fanu. It’s a dense but rewarding read, and it was crucial to Crimson Peak.

(10) Superman will make a (blurry) appearance on the next episode of Supergirl.

Consequently, Josh Wilding at We Got This Covered is a little bit crabby.

While it makes some sense that Superman would come and save the inexperienced Supergirl, the series really needs to find a way to take him off the board so he’s not continuously used as a plot device in future. If that’s not going to happen, then he should make an actual appearance instead of all these endless teases.

(11) Cedar Sanderson, “The Slow, Dark Eclipse of the Soul”, at Mad Genius Club.

It’s been a discouraging week, overall. First there was the article about SF writers coming into the genre without reading the classics of the genre. Then, when I started working on a list of classics available free (or very cheap) online to suggest to potential readers, I got a comment to the effect of ‘classics suck, they should die in a fire, and why should anyone read them?’

In the aftermath of that, which left me wondering why I was trying to make this list… I don’t make the lists to force anyone to read anything. I can’t – who am I? I’m not the teacher, or the… anything. I’m just someone who likes to create these lists of recommendations with input from others, and then they generate even more suggestions in the comments. I make lists to be beginnings, not endings. The hope is that someone will see a title they had never read, or had forgotten, and that strikes mental sparks in folks who have favorites they want to share, and so on. It’s about building up the genre, not tearing it down. I’d never say ‘you must read these books, and only these books, all others are anathema.’

As I was saying, I was still mentally mulling the whole ‘classics suck!’ thing over in my head, when a minor controversy erupted over writing book reviews. When, if ever, is it ok to be critical in a review? Should we put ourselves in a position where we say ‘well, that author is on my side, ergo I must never say a bad word about his work?’ Well, no, I don’t think so. Nor do I think that the occasional critical review is a bad thing – as long as the review is analyzing the work, not the author, and leavened with the good along with the bad. That’s how I do it. But it’s discouraging to be told that we can’t present a critical view of a work, simply because of who the author is.

(12) Fans are so smitten by the idea of an illuminated toy lightsaber that’s sturdy enough to bash around that they have fully funded Calimacil’s Kickstarter and then some – raising $46,889, well beyond the $38,259 goal.

The challenge was to build a lightsaber made of foam for safe play. To integrate light, we had to enhance the foam formula we normally use to build our products. Moreover, we had to develop a new technology into the handle to enable both light and sound. Thus our journey began, and we successfully achieved the creation of a fully immersive foam LEDsaber!….

The LEDsaber can communicate with a smartphone through Bluetooth. With that communication enabled, you will be able to customize the light effects of the blade. Multiple choices of colors are available: red, blue, green, orange and more. Even more, you can create various visual plasma effects on the blade….

Calimacil has no intention to commercialize the product using any kind of trademark associated to Disney. For the purpose of the kickstarter campaign we use the term LEDsaber.

 

(13) A lot of people post about their pets passing away, and I empathize with their sadness and loss.

It’s rare that someone can communicate what it was like to be in relationship with that animal, as John Scalzi has in “Lopsided Cat, 2000-2015”.

(14) And I therefore place next a BBC video in which an “Astronaut plays bagpipes on International Space Station”

A US astronaut has played a set of Scottish-made bagpipes on the International Space Station to pay tribute to a colleague who died.

Kjell Lindgren played Amazing Grace on the pipes after recording a message about research scientist Victor Hurst, who was involved in astronaut training.

It is thought to be the first time that bagpipes have been played in space.

(15) Internet English – the language in which “honest” means “brutal”!

The Force is awakening soon – and we have an honest look at the trailer for the movie that everyone’s already going to see anyway.

 

 [Thanks to Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Asimov Still Holds The Record

This weekend’s Nebula ceremony kerfuffle sent ripples in all directions. Even though SFWA President Steven Gould resolved it within hours, on Facebook a few hours is the internet equivalent of dog years, more than enough time for people to replay every gaffe and grievance that ever happened at a Nebula Weekend.

However, nothing can rival Isaac Asimov’s ghastly mistake at the 1971 Nebula Awards ceremony. Nor has any other gaffe worked out better for the injured party in the long run.

Les Champs matchbook coverOn Saturday, April 3, 1971 the leading science fiction professionals were seated around banquet tables in New York’s Les Champs Restaurant watching Asimov hand out the Nebulas.

Asimov had been pressed into service at the last minute. While that was not a problem for anyone who loved an audience as much as the Good Doctor, it meant that he had little time to study the handwritten list of results. In those days the emcee was not only given the names of the winners, but the names of the runners-up, which he also announced.

When Asimov came to the Short Story category his eyes slipped over “No Award” and he read the first real name on the list — which was Gene Wolfe, author of “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories.”

As Wolfe stood up a SFWA officer promptly whispered a correction to Asimov. Asimov went pale and announced he’d made an error. There was “No Award” in the Short Story category. Wolfe sat back down.

Eyewitness Harlan Ellison (writing in Again Dangeous Visions) says everyone felt awful –

Around him everyone felt the rollercoaster nausea of stomachs dropping out of backsides. Had it been me, I would have fainted or screamed or punched Norbert Slepyan of Scribner’s, who was sitting next to me. Gene Wolfe just smiled faintly and tried to make us all feel at ease by a shrug and a gentle nod of his head.

Fortunately, the mistake was eventually redeemed. As the author explained:

A month or so after the banquet I was talking to Joe Hensley, and he joked that I should write “The Death of Doctor Island,” saying that everyone felt so sorry for me that it was sure to win. I thought about that when I got home and decided to try, turning things inside out to achieve a different story.

He did, and his novella “The Death of Doctor Island” won a Nebula in 1974.

Wolfe adds:

After that a hundred readers or so challenged me to write “The Doctor of Death Island.”

Which he also did. The story appeared in Immortal, Jack Dann’s 1978 anthology. (Though no Nebula that year.)

IslandOfDoctorDeathBefore long these stories were gathered in The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (1980), that delightfully-named collection of Wolfe’s best short fiction.

Nor was he done. Gene Wolfe would write a fourth iteration – “Death of the Island Doctor” – to be packaged with the previous “Island” stories for a specialty edition, The Wolfe Archipelago (1983).

In the end, oyster-like, Gene took a little irritant and turned it into a string of pearls…

WolfeWiki

I was glad to discover “WolfeWiki.” I would have been even more glad if creators of this site devoted to Gene Wolfe’s fiction felt qualified to offer the “‘correct’ answer to the question, ‘what happened in that story, anyway?'” Do we need an ambiguous Wiki?

The Wolfe researchers say they are following the writer’s own lead, noting his use of unreliable narrators and love of the mysterious.

Are there other Wikis that emulate the the best-known traits of the writers they’re dedicated to? Like a Harlan Ellison Wiki that SHOUTS EVERY ANSWER AT YOU IN ALL CAPS?

[Via SF Signal.]